All photos by Maria Ferreira
Last week MotelX came rolling in, like an eerie mist from Sintra, through the doors of Cinema Sao Jorge for its 12th year of existence and its “most Portuguese year yet.” MotelX is arguably Portugal’s most beloved film festival, with thousands of devout followers showing up over the course of a week each September to binge on movies in this beautiful cinema and sit on the steps outside for an imperial or two in between. This year, as always, the family vibe was very much evident amongst all of the horror-heads.
MotelX 2018 edition, while lacking some of the fun interactive pieces that were on display throughout Cinema Sao Jorge last year outside of the screening rooms, did make up for it with a line-up packed full of national and world premieres, centenary parties and its richest year of homegrown talent. This edition boasted two world premieres of Portuguese horrors, Inner Ghosts by Paulo Leite and Mutant Blast by Fernando Alle, and 12 individual entries for the MOTE award — Best Portuguese Horror Short Film. The short film award was won by Guilherme Daniel and his team with their movie A estranha casa na bruma and made for an emotional presentation of the prize money at the closing session of the festival. (Atlas recommendation: 15 minutes very well spent if you do get the chance to watch this short.)
On top of a Tuga-heavy line-up there was also the standard presence of international guests, including Leigh Whannell as a headliner. The writer behind the Saw and Insidious series who also premiered his newest movie, Upgrade, ran a masterclass and spoke some kind words at the closing of the festival.
Hagazussa: A heathen’s curse by Lukas Feigelfeld took the prize for Best European Horror Feature Film 2018 / Méliés d’argent and One cut of the dead by Shinichirou Ueda won the MotelX 2018 – Audience Award. There was also an honorable mention from the jury for the Portuguese short Augur by David Doutel and Vasco Sá in the Best Portuguese Horror Short film category.
The festival grows from strength to strength each year and through the hard work and dedication of the background team, the help of many volunteers and enthusiasm from the army of fans, this festival has morphed into a major platform for the genre on both a national and international level.